County picks vendors, approves $37K yearly cost for internet & radio services to new 911 center

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners unanimously approved the selection of two separate vendors for fiber internet lines between the county’s new 911 center and the existing center, and for a “dark fiber” connection between the 911 center and the county’s emergency radio tower. That tower lets local emergency radios access the state’s interoperability radio network.

These are the final technology service connections to be made in order for Morgan County’s 911 center to go live, said county officials last Wednesday.

Morgan County’s future 911 center.

Officials were hoping to put the 911 center into operation this month, but radio and internet connections are not in place yet.

Commissioners approved a 36- month contract with Frontier Communications to provide fiber internet services to the Morgan County 911 Center at 111 Fairfax Street – in the former Sheriff’s Office space.

They also approved a 36-month contract with Shentel (Shenandoah Telecommunications Company) to provide a separate fiber internet service to the center as a redundant line – a backup internet service in case Frontier’s connection fails.

Shentel will also supply the “dark fiber” direct connect fiber between the new 911 center and the county’s 911 tower next to the old dispatch center.

During a discussion of bids for these services, 911 Director Ron Mason and Deputy Director Marshall Younker told commissioners they recommended having the backup internet service provided by someone other than Frontier Communications, in case of service failure.

The county approved:

–$2,234 per month to Frontier for the main fiber internet service to the Morgan County 911 center,

–$875 per month to Shentel for a backup internet service and a direct “dark fiber” connection between the 911 center and the county’s 911 radio tower.

The 36-month contract will cost the county $3,109 per month, or $37,308 annually for three years.

All of the 911 center’s data and equipment are internet-based, said Younker.

The contracts represent all new expenses to the county’s 911 operations, officials confirmed.

The county will continue to pay for phone and internet service to the existing dispatch center near the old hospital.

County Administrator Stefanie Allemong said the county is looking at a 45-day waiting period until these fiber connections are in place and the new 911 center can be activated.

Younker said his department can’t go forward with any more training in the new center without the fiber connection to the 911 tower, which makes county emergency radios work with the state’s emergency radio system.